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  • Ah, music... A magic beyond all we do here! -Albus Dumbledore

On My Love Affair with Books (and Currently, “Beyond the Pale Motel”, Francesca Lia Block <3)

By kiyomi on Mon, 25 Aug 2014

not long ago, i met the beautiful, talented, insightful author, Francesca Lia Block. it was a dream come true. i was able to talk to her, get my books signed, and give her my “Child in Me” album. she remembered me and later, wrote me and some others an email. it was about her new book, Beyond the Pale Motel. she was wondering if any of us would like to blog about or help get the word out about her yet to be released novel. of course i wanted to! her books have lifted my spirits and rekindled my creativity so many times over the past decade or so. i received an advance copy a couple of weeks ago. it was delicious. but more on that later, and now, on how it all started..

i was always one of those kids with their noses buried in a book, wherever i went. i used to look forward to coming home from school, just so i could grab one from the huge stack i’d gotten from the library, my dreamland! then i’d rummage through the snack cupboard in the kitchen, grab something, and go somewhere quiet and read for hours. that was my idea of paradise i was kind of a lonely, extremely shy kid with big dreams, so books comforted me, loved me (and i loved them fiercely back), and i could go away to so many different places just by reading, it was magical!

i haven’t changed much since then, except now i carry a purse with me always (currently a hot pink Michael Kors! - i think now i may be just as obsessed with purses as i am with books!), and i always have a book with me if i know there may be a free moment. also now instead of libraries, it’s bookstores and Amazon or iBooks!

about a decade ago, i remember walking into Barnes and Nobles and seeing a book called Dangerous Angels. for some reason i was extremely drawn to it, so i bought it and fell in love. even now, i still reread it and other FLB books over and over again, when i need a lift, a creative boost, or to just not feel alone. for me to be so affected by a book is saying a lot, since i’ve literally read thousands! Dangerous Angels was sparkly, creative, and touched me to the core. and i was intrigued by the person who could create such a beautiful contribution to the world. if i’d known back then that i’d get to meet her and write about Beyond the Pale Motel before it’s release date, i wouldn’t have believed it!

so, Beyond the Pale Motel, how can i explain it in words? it’s hip and stylish. it’s intriguing, sexy, dark, and thrilling. it kept me interested from the first page to the last. the pretty, sensual, delicious descriptions of everything, made me swoon and want to keep drinking it in. like, i wanted to wear the “silk kimono dress printed with pink peonies and white cherry blossoms”, and use the beautiful makeup and eat the beautiful food described in the book. FLB just has this way of making you passionately drawn to her books, getting close to your core through her enticing but heartfelt words. and this book especially, had an exciting, captivating plot to go along with it. and the best thing about it? in the end, it’s all about love. and pain. and how everyone is in pain at one time or another. and it most likely will never stop. but love won’t either. and knowing that everyone is on the same boat makes you feel like you’re never alone. and what really matters is how you use your heart, and how big you can expand it. it’s about “seeing the love in everything”, like the main character is able to do.

this book came to me at an appropriate time, as the word i chose and wanted to embody this year, is love. and this book though dark, is about love. and good art is created through love. Francesca writes in the end, “Love is not the monster, not at all. True love is the thing that makes life bearable. That reveals life’s beauty”.

so i recommend this book. i recommend Francesca Lia Block. read Beyond the Pale Motel, and read Dangerous Angels. and you will read love. and you will be so much better for it.


Summer Magic in New York City (i met Gala Darling!!)

By kiyomi on Mon, 21 Jul 2014

New York City has always been a magical place for me, a place full of surprises and glitter at every corner, a place where my heart feels bursting and full when i’m there. i just love it, and it’s my heart.

i’d been feeling empty creatively and longing for my dreams, thirsting for some color in my life. i pulled a card from my tarot deck one morning, and pulled… The Magician. and for some reason, this made me start tearing up which then turned into a full crying session, oh my goodness. because i interpreted it as me needing to go out there to make my own magic. but i just felt sooo TIRED of trying and trying and not seeing any results! and feeling like the responsibility was still on me felt just too much.

BUT of course i stopped feeling sorry for myself, got off my butt, and decided to take charge. so, i thought, New York City. i feel happy whenever i’m there, so i’ll just go there more often and see what that may bring.

well, the first thing i did there this summer was ever so magical! i met a blogger i admire greatly, Gala Darling!! i’ve been reading her sparkly, informative, and sometimes spiritual blog for probably a year now, and when i saw the opportunity to meet and hang out with her at her Radical Self Love Salon, i jumped at the chance! yes, i was scared - i get anxious in situations i’m not familiar with, surrounded by people i don’t know - but i knew i needed to not let my fear stop me.

so i made my way over to NYC! i got to the building, went up the elevator, poked my head around the corner when i got off and saw the door to it, slightly ajar. i poked my head in and there she was! just as lovely as her photos, in a bright pink dress and a flower crown. (anyone who loves pink is my kind of person!) and i later learned she’s also a total sweetheart too!

one of the first things she had us do was pull an oracle card from the beautiful Outi Harma deck, and tell everyone what it said and how it applied to our lives. my card pictured a female with tears running down her face, and the words “letting go”, on it. yes, that was a little alarming to me, but when it was my turn to speak, i just told all the ladies that i’d been doing a lot of crying lately like the picture. also, i told them i feel i’m in a big transition period right now, i can feel it in my bones. and astrologically and tarot-wise, i’ve also been getting hints. i said i’m not quite sure of what i’m letting go unless it’s an old version of me, but i know that i can’t let go of music because it’s just my heart, and that would be just as hard as letting go of a boyfriend or a husband. and i love how all the women in the room were so supportive, and trying to do and say whatever they could, to uplift and help everyone else in the room. it was like we were all in it together.

Gala did such a great job in creating a beautiful moment full of wonderful and supportive new people, laughter, tears, pink rose petals, and rose quartz crystals. i enjoyed every second, and in the end we wrote one thing each that we wanted to let go of, on a piece of paper. then one by one we got up to burn them in a little metal cauldron. what i wrote on mine was “fear”. i just wanted to burn away all the fear that’s preventing me from reaching my dreams. i just want to go for it and not look back one day and say i never did what i wanted to because i was too afraid. well, this was the perfect start to that, i’d say

afterwards, some of us decided to hang out and walk around the city. it was the most beautiful day, and i was so happy to be out! we walked through wildflowers in the park, and on the bustling city side walks. met an adorable little french bulldog, saw a lady making the biggest bubbles i’ve ever seen, ate the best gelato ever at Grom, and the best part, walked by a musician playing a real baby grand piano in the middle of the park!!

so this is why i love NYC so much, why it is my heart. musicians playing baby grands outside? being able to meet people you admire, like Gala Darling? literally being surrounded by people who push fear away and just live out their dreams? that’s NYC for you, and it surely is a SENSATIONAL place where your dreams can come true. all you gotta do is start with a little magic


How Kripalu Helped My Heart Bloom <3

By kiyomi on Wed, 25 Jun 2014

a pretty picture of the spiritual retreat center in MA, featuring a big sign to the entrance of their campus reading “Kripalu”, has been on my dream board for going on 2 years now. ever since Joseph & i went on a retreat to Omega Institute in NY a while back, i’ve wanted to go on another one. but somehow we never got around to it. maybe because we subconsciously thought, why go on one spiritual retreat, when we could go on TWO fun getaways with beautiful accommodations, for the same price?? haha

but my soul had been starting to feel really brittle, so i knew i needed this, i knew i needed to make a conscious effort to get myself there one way or another. i knew the time and investment were worth it. so i made a determination to go, in my heart, no matter what. joseph was right on board with me. and of course right after we made that decision, we got our tax return, which would cover a lot of it, so i felt it was a sure sign! and of course i should have known this, as i have a quote taped up by my desk by Sark saying, “go to where you want to be, and the resources will follow”

another reason i was drawn to going, was not only would this be a spiritual retreat, but a musical one. i found that Snatam Kaur, would be leading one of the retreats, so i specifically chose to go to hers. if you don’t know who Snatam is, her music is played in many yoga classes all over. she’s also almost always a featured performer for yoga festivals all over. i once was yoga-ing away during a class, and heard a beautiful voice singing a beautiful melody, and found later it was Snatam’s music. and since then, we have collected and enjoyed a few of her albums. spirituality, combined with MUSIC, why of COURSE i would have to go to this!! and to be in the same room as the source of this beautiful music, for several days? of course! my heart was drawn and there was no way back, as part of me feeling brittle is always because of a lack of music in my world.

and what a beautiful, transcending experience it was. Kripalu is a beautiful retreat space. full of such high, light, beautiful energy throughout the property. i’m usually very sensitive to energies wherever i go, especially if i am to sleep somewhere new. i didn’t get one bad vibe here at all, it just felt so peaceful and clear. and wonderful, nutritious food the whole time, too, which always helps your overall wellbeing.

we got there, and i was walking into the main room where the workshop would take place. i turned my head to the right, and there she was she gave me the warmest smile, where i could almost physically feel it. it was almost startling, her energy was just so light and bright and full of love. she’s just one of those people that can change your insides just by being in their presence, i think she may be a human angel. and i realize i want to embody that kind of energy. i want my music to bring light to people’s souls. and to make music like that, i need to keep going in that direction myself.

we did a whole lot a meditative chanting, and by the 2nd day, i was spiritually and physically worn out. and during a chant, with the beautiful live music being played, i found myself getting really emotional. first with so much anger, over something minor (which is usually masking something major!). i was so angry and couldn’t control my eyes tearing up over it. i had to get up and leave the room. and when i came back, of course i continued to cry. and this time it ended up being because i felt so lost. i kept asking whoever or whatever is out there, ‘what am i supposed to do in this world? what is my purpose and howw do i do it?? help me find my music. help me find my music.’ all of my confusion and struggles of searching just came tumbling out. and of course the music is what made me cry the most. the beauty of it, and my heart wanting to do it so much and loving it so much. and i felt so worn out by the end of the day. i even thought i wouldn’t mind going home already.

Snatam was having a concert that evening, though. i was worn out, but walked over to the hall with Joseph anyway. we ended up being able to sit in the very front, right in front of the musicians. and… it was just so beautiful. beautiful voices, strings, tabla. i found myself singing along, even if i didn’t know some of the songs, i just started singing harmonies to go along with the music, and it was magical. you know when you’re listening to live music and it just takes you to another plane? i was on another plane, the whole room was. the power of music. we were all lifted to a higher level. and it rejuvenated me. filled me up. and confirmed that music has such a high power. and i was given the gift of music. so i need to be using it somehow. even if it’s hard. even if i feel lost and helpless and don’t know HOW.

and the next morning, i made it to the 4:30am yoga & meditation. (yes, i said 4:30am! i’ll try anything once) and during the savasana (lying down meditation), i saw bright lights, and colors, on another plane, like i was on during the concert. i started crying again. it was a beautiful day. Snatam had a cd signing, so i was able to talk to her and she said she’s been watching the two of us and was happy to see us grow so much i told her i was a musician as well and we talked about the songwriting process a bit. i also gave her and her band copies of my album as a gift.

joseph bought us some beautiful malas there, his purple amethyst, and mine, pink rose quartz. we put them on the rest our time there. to infuse them with the energies of Kripalu so we could take them home with us. we wore them while we walked their beautiful labryinth, and put them on the Angel and Buddha statue that was at the center of it. i whispered my dreams and released them to the world.

we met in group discussions with the same group throughout. and made wonderful friends with like minded souls. we were to draw pictures of our states of being. mine is below. i drew me on a boat, flower in my hair, following the sun around the world, leaving behind music, beauty, and love wherever i go. and we still keep in contact with the great people we met. (so glad to have met you Laurie, John, Sara, Tom!)

yes, it was a Kundalini retreat. and there was a Buddha statue at the center of the labyrinth. but i always think of a quote i read somewhere, that when dealing with reading books, or spirituality in general, “be a sieve, not a sponge”. and i stand by that, and have for a while. i always takes what works for me and leave what doesn’t. and what i leave may work better for someone else. after all, who knows what's best for you the most? you, of course.

we went to the cafeteria for our final meal, and chose a table next to a wall. and while we were sitting there, Snatam’s husband, little girl, and band members were looking for somewhere to sit. they chose a nearby table. but her little girl shook her head and pointed right at our table and said she wanted to sit there. i love kids so we had our last meal with Snatam’s band and family, and it was so nice to connect and talk to them about everything. they even said they had listened to my cd and i have beautiful voice!! we were blessed and this retreat was just what i needed.

i still don’t know for sure, where i’m going. but i do know i’m on the right path